Sometimes, the best Saturday nights involve microwaving some popcorn, snuggling up on the sofa or in bed with the family and watching a film. Other times, the tediousness of a long car journey with young kids can be staved off with the help of an iPad and some fun cartoons. Then there are the occasional, sacred times when you get the house to yourself and want to kick back with a glass of wine and a marathon of your favourite TV series.
With so many on-demand options, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing what to watch and what streaming site to watch it on. Take a look at this guide to the top five streaming sites in the UK and what you need to know about them before choosing which service to sign up to.
Monthly cost/s: £5.99 one screen and standard definition, £7.49 two screens in HD, £8.99 four screens in HD
Broadband speed requirement: 15Mbps broadband connection minimum
A leader in the world of online streaming, Netflix is a cheap service with an easy to use interface and lots of original content. Popular shows specially made for Netflix include Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. There is also a lot of film and TV choice for kids, presented on a special homepage that restricts them from accessing more grown up content. Teenagers in the household will love the amount of much hyped TV series perfect for marathon binges but be aware that they won’t be able to access all the latest film releases on here! Netflix is handily available to use on quite a number of platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, streaming players, smart TVs and Blu-ray players.
2. Amazon Instant Video
Monthly cost/s: £6.99 or £79 a year as part of Amazon Prime
After taking over LOVEFiLM, Amazon Prime serves as a digital streaming service and DVD-rental postal service (but the latter is likely to soon discontinue). Subscribers to Prime can also enjoy other benefits such as renting films by post, Prime Music and unlimited free next day delivery on items purchased from Amazon. It boasts over 50,000 films and TV shows and, like Netflix, has a portfolio of original series such as The Man in the High Castle, Bosch and Mozart in the Jungle. The service lacks an intuitive interface and personal profiles but it does host occasional exclusives and you have direct access to buying or renting brand new films that aren’t already on there. You can enjoy Amazon Instant Video on a variety of platforms: PC, iPad, Mac, PS3, Wii, Kindle Fire HD, Xbox 360, smart TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.
3. NOW TV
Monthly cost/s: £6.99 for the Entertainment Pass, £9.99 for Movies, £9.99 a day for Sky Sports pass.
The digital streaming offering from Sky, NOW TV offers a variety of packages to sign up to, depending on what you’re in to. You can access on-demand or live content that is showing on the Sky channels! Movie buffs can view all films on Sky Movies, sports fans can catch the big game via one of the seven sports channels and those looking for all-round entertainment can access channels not available on Freeview (Sky One, Sky Atlantic) with the Entertainment Pass. Platforms that you can use are: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, YouView, streaming players and Now TV streaming box.
Monthly cost/s: N/A, you pay per film or TV show
With a constantly updated library with over 45,000 films and 190,000 TV episodes, iTunes is great for instantly buying or renting films at your leisure. A new film costs £3.49 to rent (with 48 hours to watch it) in standard definition or you can choose to watch it in HD for £4.49. Download the film to your device for £9.99 in standard definition or £13.99 in HD. Older titles are available to buy for a little less! You can enjoy your downloads or streams on PCs, Macs, Apple TV or any iOS products. As there are no monthly fees, this is a terrific option if you want to watch the latest release or have a particular film in mind that might not be available on the other services.
Monthly cost/s: £9.99
A library of all Disney films — what family wouldn’t enjoy this service? Along with the famous films you also get access to cartoons shows, music, ebooks and the interactive app. Fairly new to the scene, DisneyLife is currently only available to watch on iOS and Android (tablets, smartphones, PCs, Macs). You can add up to ten compatible devices, cancel the contract at any time and make use of the 10% discount at the Disney store. There are various Disney films available on other streaming networks but this definitely is the one pit stop for all the family classics.
One thing’s for sure — you’re going to need a good broadband connection to get the best film and TV streaming experience. Maybe it would be good idea to test your broadband speed to avoid disappointment, there is nothing more annoying that a film stopping to buffer half way through!
Sit back, relax and enjoy the perks of this on-demand world.
Images by Da Goaty, ToddMorris and HeyDanielle, used under Creative Commons licence